Haute Insider: The Secret Language of Flight Attendants


Flight Attendant

Being a flight attendant is one of the most curious jobs on the planet. Making a career out of flying across the globe and keeping unruly passengers comfortable and safe can grate on even the calmest of nerves. Thankfully, flight attendants have developed their own on-the-job lingo to talk to their fellow men and women of the skies. Former flight attendant Blissom Booblé gave Yahoo! Travel a quick lesson in stewardess slang. So, if on your next flight, you hear one of these phrases float through the cabin, here’s what’s really being said:

Senior Mama
Use affectionately, this is a term used to describe the matriarchs of the flight crew. Senior Mamas are veteran flight attendants who have traveled on more than their fair share of flights, and know every little detail about being a flight attendant. Under a sometimes grumpy exterior, there’s years of practical flying wisdom just be waiting to be mined.

Pink Eye
Don’t worry, there’s nothing going on with your eye. A “pink eye” is a shorter, less torturous version of a red eye.

Lips and Tips
Almost like a rallying call for flight attendants, “Lips and Tips” is a simple reminder that despite all of the exhausting duties that make up a flight attendants day, it’s always important to look your best. It’s named for the matching lip and fingertip colors often seen on flight attendants.

A “Flip-Flop” can wreak havoc on one’s circadian rhythms. It’s when an attendant has to fly a red-eye overnight, hopefully snag some sleep during the next day, and report to duty for an early morning flight the next day. It’s basically being expected to completely flip your schedule from up all night to up all day in the span of 24 hours.

Sometimes flight attendants will be tasked with flying to an amazing destination, just for the plane to turn right around and head back home. Basically, It’s the shortest vacation ever.

Hot Room
Also known as on premise reserve, standby reserve, and “the couch,” flight attendants are sometimes stuck in a room as reserve staff until the airline can figure out what flights to put them on. Being on the “couch” means you have no idea where you might be heading next. 

This one is a tad confusing. Perhaps saying the extra syllable in “disembark” takes more time than many flight attendants have, but the word for leaving the plane favored by the crew is “deplane”

Just when a flight attendant thinks they may be spending a balmy layover in some costal city, they may get hit with a tagged flight to a random destination and end up spending the night somewhere a lot colder than they expected. If your attendant is extra cranky, this might be why.

“UM” or Unaccompanied Minors are children as young as four that are traveling on their own, and they usually have big bright badges attached to them to let everyone know there are no parents around. Depending on the kid, UM’s can be a delight or hell in the sky for a flight attendant.

Victory Lap
After a long sting of flights to several locations, a plane may be required to make a quick trip to a city close to home before they can stay at home for good, hence, the sarcastically named victory lap.